What to expect at immersive theatre in New York City

Learn what to expect from immersive theatre and tips on how to prepare for your visit, as these shows bring you into the action, not just the audience.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Immersive theatre is a type of performance that breaks the "fourth wall," the invisible divide between performer and audience member. So when attending an immersive show, you won't be seated, watching the action take place on a stage neatly in front of you. Instead, the show takes place all around you, and you're a part of the story. You'll interact with the characters and even influence how the story moves forward.

With the rise in popularity of immersive theatre in the last decade, the art form has evolved to include new categories of experiences, from interactive escape rooms to virtual reality and pop-ups. While not all of these activities are considered "theatre" in the traditional sense, we love them all and their ability to spark imagination and fulfil our love for unique adventures on stage and off. Check out our advice for how to prepare to attend an immersive experience, and get tickets to an immersive show in New York now.

How can I prepare for immersive theatre?

To make the most out of immersive theatre, you'll need to get a few things in order. Here are our top tips for seeing immersive theatre before you attend a show.

Dress for the experience.

At most immersive shows, you'll do a lot of walking as you explore the venue with the characters. In some, you'll actually be in the show. Dressing to theme is encouraged, but be sure to wear comfortable shoes no matter what.

Eat before — or don't.

Food can often be a part of an immersive experience, so make sure to know if you'll be provided with a meal, snacks, or drinks or everything in between. You won't want to miss out on a tasty treat if you're already stuffed from dinner. That said, if food isn't included, be sure to have a hearty meal, as you'll be on your feet for a few hours and don't want to get tired.

Arrive early.

This probably goes without saying, but you should get to the show early in order to get acquainted with the venue. The cast could move to a different location in the first 10 minutes. You could walk in and all of a sudden be on stage. You never know what's going to happen in immersive theatre.

Travel light.

Not all immersive venues have places to store shopping bags, strollers, gym bags, suitcases, or heavy purses. Many immersive shows don't even allow you to carry anything larger than a small bag or purse, as larger items could get in the way of the performers and other guests.

Read the instructions.

A lot of immersive experiences essentially start the moment you buy your ticket. Make sure to read any emails the show sends you in advance so you don't miss out on guidelines or backstory.

Don't be afraid to explore.

Part of the magic of immersive experiences is that they're often in amazing environments. At certain shows, you'll be with characters the whole time, but at others, you're free to go off and explore the venue at your own pace by opening drawers or checking out other rooms. You never know what — or who — you might find.

Watch immersive theatre in New York City

Currently, there are three immersive shows playing in New York. The Broadway disco musical Here Lies Love invites audiences onto the dance floor as the Broadway Theatre becomes a nightclub. Sleep No More, in New York since 2011, is still going strong in the Hitchcock-meets-Shakespeare-inspired McKittrick Hotel. Newer to the scene is The Great Gatsby: The Immersive Show, which brings the Roaring Twenties back to life at the Gatsby Mansion at the Park Central Hotel New York.

Learn more about all the immersive theatre currently playing in New York. Get tickets to these shows now, and lose yourself in another world.

Photo credit: The Great Gatsby: The Immersive Show. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

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